Megan Wright, of Christchurch, together with her children Sarah (8) and Eric (6), yesterday christened Coastguard Wanaka Lakes' first rescue vessel, which once belonged to her late husband Owen, who died rescuing people during the 2011 Canterbury earthquake. The family is pictured with Coastguard Wanaka Lakes president Jim Talboys. Photo by Lucy Ibbotson.
Megan Wright's late husband Owen often said his prized boat
would make a good Coastguard rescue vessel, and yesterday,
his vision was realised.
Mrs Wright and her children Sarah and Eric, of Christchurch,
were on the Wanaka lakefront yesterday to christen Coastguard
Wanaka Lakes' first dedicated rescue vessel, which had
belonged to their husband and father as a recreational boat
until he sold it in 2010 to a paua fishing operator.
Owen Wright was killed, aged 40, in an aftershock from the
February 2011 Canterbury earthquake. He had been ferrying
people in his 4WD up to the Bridle Path, so they could return
to their homes in Lyttelton, and was heading home to his own
family when he was killed by a rockfall.
His best friend, Coastguard Canterbury president Greg Skene,
arranged for Mr Wright's family to be part of the boat's
re-launching as a Coastguard rescue vessel.
Mr Skene recalled the pair's many adventures on the boat and
teasing Mr Wright about its appearance.
''She ain't pretty, but she's a real workhorse,'' he told the
crowd of around 60 locals and Coastguard volunteers at the
Mrs Wright said despite calling the 6.7m Naiad boat ''The
Pig'' around his mates, at home Mr Wright referred to it as
''Orca'' and ''we thought it was just beautiful''.
''My husband always said it would make such a good Coastguard
boat ... it's really nice.''
Her children poured champagne over the boat's hull during the
celebration, after David Higgins, of Moeraki, performed a
Maori blessing on the boat, and Wanaka's Anglican vicar Damon
Plimmer also said a blessing.
Mr Higgins had a close involvement with the boat as a member
of the board which commissioned it for Whale Watch Kaikoura
and named it Tohora.
The vessel was bought last Christmas by Coastguard Wanaka
Lakes with funds from Otago Community Trust, Lion Foundation,
Wanaka Rotary Club and the Lottery Grants Board through
Coastguard New Zealand.
Equipment and ongoing running costs have been funded by the
Graham and Olive West Trust, local businesses and the Wanaka
Lake Swimmers Club.
Coastguard Wanaka Lakes was formed in 2011, but has been
operating since 2007 as part of Wanaka's Land Search and
Rescue group with a core group of seven people who remain
Coastguard Wanaka Lakes president Jim Talboys said that,
since 2011, there had been 1570 hours spent on training and
fundraising for the boat.
The boat was only now ready for service following a survey
and substantial training to qualify three Coastguard members
- Mr Talboys included - as skippers.
By Christmas, there would be another four qualified skippers.
The group, which now has 23 voluntary members, has been using
private vessels for training and search and rescue operations
until now and has been involved in six operations to date -
four on Lake Wanaka, one on Lake Hawea and one on the